having something to eat isn’t enough. What matters more is knowing that there
will be another meal coming soon, and that it will help nourish your body. This
is an aspect of life in America that many people don’t know about, and it’s one
that a trio of IUP students talked about April 4 at the annual Undergraduate
Scholars Forum at the Hadley Union Building.
Kenyon and Ashley Whigham, both of Pittsburgh, and Ashley Tomasko, of
Connellsville, showed off their research and conclusions to their project,
“Food Insecurity: Finding a Solution to a Growing Family Issue” with a
15-minute presentation and question and answer session. The students are Child
Development and Family Relations majors. The faculty sponsor for the research
project is Daniel Puhlman.
presentation on Food Insecurity was one of more than 150 during the 12th
annual, one-day event, which allows IUP undergraduate students to present
original research in a wide array of subjects. Additionally, there were nearly
100 undergraduate students participating in the poster presentation session.
graduate forum will be held April 5, also at the HUB. A total of 300 students
are involved in the two programs, held as part of Research Appreciation Week at
group defined Food Insecurity as: the condition where a person or family faces
the challenges of not having enough food; food that isn’t nutritious; lack of money for food; or a combination of those
factors. Their research showed that one in six Americans face Food Insecurity
and one in four American children live in homes that face this issue.
most common conditions are being worried about food running out, that you can’t
have balanced meal, that you skip out on meal all together, or that the food
did not last long enough,” Kenyon said.
said the group’s research showed that the most common demographics of Food
Insecure homes were ones that had low or no income, were led by single parents,
and were in rural areas. It’s also prevalent among families that do not have
strong social bonds with their local communities, including churches or other organizations.
also showed data that suggests Food Insecurity leads to a variety of health
issues, including Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, weight problems and
heart disease. Because food is the issue, families don’t always spend money on
health care, which could take care of some of these ailments.
families are often faced with some really tough decisions,” Kenyon said.
made the group’s presentation on a possible solution, which would be to create
an organization here in Indiana County that would work to erase some of the
causes of Food Insecurity.
group proposed by the students would help educate individuals and families
about things like nutrition and cooking skills, while also raising awareness in
the community of the plight many people face when it comes to food.
is the main goal,” Whigham said. “The way we could hit the ground running is to
get out in community, to get to know their concerns and for them to get to know
us. That way people will be more likely to seek services if they know us.”
admitted setting up a program like this won’t be easy, and that the biggest
roadblock is funding. But by doing their research, the group of students
believes making people aware of the problem is the first step.
mission is to advocate for Food Insecure families and help spread awareness,”
she said. “We’ll do this with our services.”